Friday, 26 June 2009

When you lose who you are

It seems to me that the ONLY reason one ever feels repressed, stressed of even depressed is because of the momentary loss of who you are at the deepest part of your soul. At least this is my experience!

Sure, I've been stressed by work, ill health, financial problems, ridiculous levels of perfectionism and guilt at not reaching such high standards etc etc - but despite all of those things a wonderful feeling of "everything's ok" was always there, if only I had stopped and looked.

Let me explain - thoughout the past few years I have been up and down in my feeling of joy and despair like the greatest yoyo you could ever hope to possess. Yep, I've had my fair share of stresses, as you all know, but there have been times in my life when I have had worse to worry about and been absolutely fine, and others when there has not been a reason to stress and yet there I was, facing the darkest nights. It was not my circumstance that caused me upset, but my reactions to them and they way I viewed the world.

I am a pleaser - I like to please others, either by my thoughts, words or deeds. I am also an achiever, blessed by an ability to achieve great things but burdened by the thought that this means I have to achieve everything and achieve it NOW! These two things combined have caused me more stress and concern than anything else. Seriously.

My second year at uni was one of my happiest - I was spiritually active, I wrote tons of poems and stories, and I had the time of my life. I felt secure, loved and protected and nothing really mattered. Consequently my health was fantastic too, for endo and IBS both react badly to stress, and without it I felt amazing. Then came my third year - I worried and fretted, I closed down spiritually because of my environment and I felt pressured to "prove my worth". Of course life sent me great teachers, but instead of seeing the opportunity to overcome my fears I fell prey to them and lost all my self-worth.

It took me almost a whole year and reaching rock bottom to realise this did not work and at the moment when I should have been stressed beyond measure I felt as chilled as anything. I had my final exams, the tutors were all on strike, and I had to start looking for jobs. But I realised in the grand scheme of things it didn't matter. And consequently I did far better, because through relaxation I found I actually enjoyed the process.

Again, recently, I struggled as my health deteriorated, I felt I was underachieving at work, and I wasn't there for those who needed me. It took a lot to shake me out of it and realise that again I had fallen under my own ideals of who I thought I should be - I should learn these languages, I should study to be a tour guide, I should do more at work, I should give more to my family, I should be able to get us out of debt, I should, I should, I should...

Should never, ever helps us as it places upon us a mask to hide who we really are. I lost my spirituality and my ability to see the beauty all around me and even within myself by following shoulds. I'm not saying there aren't times when I need to act a certain way, but they certainly shouldn't take over my entire life. So I am reclaiming my free time for me and I am rediscovering who I really am.

For too long this blog has been something I felt I should write - or rather it is something I have written posts about based on what I think people would want to read. So now it's time for a change. I am currently writing again and it is beautiful - to do what you feel in your heart and soul is an amazing thing. Too often I have blocked my creativity by trying to find ways to write that people would want - a silly thing for someone who once run a writing course to teach people they could write by writing what made them happy. Sometimes I need to practise what I preach!

And for too long I have not had the time to devote to this one thing I love so much - I have taken on projects here there and everywhere which have eaten up my time and then I have lamented the fact I have no time. Silly, really. So now I am excited to be building up an idea which will alow me to do what I want by truly being who I am.

Of course change can be scary - it means saying goodbye to things you know... like this blog I have nurtured for so long. But a change can be the best thing in the world, when you know why you are changing and what you really want. And for once I believe that I do.

So changes are afoot and I invite you to follow, if you wish, but for now I cannot say how it will change. All I know is that I am excited by this because finally I am ready to say "this is who I am - take it or leave it". Now, doesn't that make you sigh!!


Nicole said...

You are an inspiration Amanda... I wish I could free myself the way you are doing right now... will need some more time as I am not ready to let go ... even tough I have an inkling as to which parts of my life I might have to say goodbye to... but right now..I just cant...


Jeanne said...

Let me start by saying you are wise beyond your years and very insightful.

Losing who you are is a difficult challenge to overcome indeed. You are wise to be working at this.

It's true that how we choose to look at things (even the painful, scary, negative ones) is very important. It can be easy to lose sight of what really matters.

How we react to things is important. Certainly the events themselves can have enormous impact. However, it's how we manage and get through it that really matters (even in great tragedy).

It's impossible to please everyone. It sounds like you're reaching the point of realizing this and taking note. There is nothing wrong with being a high achiever... unless you destroy yourself trying to attain perfection or wreck your health pushing past your body's (or mind's) limits. As you pointed out also, there is no law that says, "everything must be done NOW".

It sounds like you have identified things that worked well for you in the past. Go for it!

It sounds like you also know what pitfalls to watch for. I'm sorry you had to go through that stress but the good news is you can use it to prevent more trouble!

Now, maybe I'm getting caught up in semantics but I think of "underachieving" as having a negative connotation... in other word that the underachiever somehow isn't taking every possible step available. You, on the other hand, have bent over backwards to do your best at work! The reality is that the job may be too physically demanding for you with your health problems.

The word "should" carries judgment with it. The last thing you need is to be judged.

Good for you! Reclaim your free time!

Good for you writing about what you are inspired to write about... rather than worrying what you think others want to read!

It's hard to practice what you preach. (I have firsthand experience. I "get it").

It sounds like you are streamlining how you spend your time. Good for you!

Yes, change can be scary. I know saying goodbye to my old blog recently was nerve-wracking. I have to say, though, that I'm psyched to be on my new blog and I know I made the right decision to move, rename, etc.

So it sounds like you are not going to keep writing this particular blog?? I know you can't say how things will change (even though I'm dying of suspense). :) So I'll just have to be patient.

I'm glad you're excited (!) and am excited for you!

So "be who you are!" and I can't wait to hear what you have up your sleeve! :)

Jeanne said...


I hope you are doing OK! Thinking of you.


Maddy said...

Thank you Amanda for your many kind words, here and at my blog. And yes you are right, I just need to DO IT> :)